Michael Szpakowski

Michael Szpakowski

Could you come up with a definition of "soundtoys"

Its not an expression I would have used, although I can see its precise relevance in the case of my ?..shadows..? piece, which has a game like feel to it.

What is your project and your work about?

The particular piece was about trying to achieve a piece in which both visuals and music played a significant part and in which events in one sphere were closely tied to the other, rather than one being merely a decorative backdrop to the other.

How long have you been working in this area?

In music, 24 years. In ?multimedia? in the narrow sense of the word, 1 year.

Were you an artist/ musician first who got into using computers/the
net or did you respond to the net in an artistic way?

The first; although I don?t see that that precludes ?responding to the net in an artistic way?. I started using sampling and sequencers in the late 80s, forgot about them for a while, then bought a PC in 97, and started using Sibelius as both a notation and sequencing tool together with a digital piano and a sampler. From there it was a logical progression to look at ways of making cross arts pieces, which I?ve always done , but using digital technology. I discovered Director about a year ago and have been using it since.

What/ who has influenced you in your work? (themes, other artists etc)

Specifically in connection with work for the net I owe an enormous musical debt to Steve Reich ( as does just about everyone). Visually , Bruce Nauman but I don?t think it shows.

Are there any other artists covering the same field as you?
I think so- I?ve seen/heard pieces that occupy similar territory.

Do you see this work as art?
It aspires to it.

With regard to 'soundtoys' especially, why do you think the audio
visual metaphor is so key to the net?

Because the net, or rather digital technology, enable us to move towards the gesamtkunstwerke, the totalised work of art, in a way that has been dreamed about but not previously realizable- its curious how ideas often become part of the intellectual furniture just before they are actually capable of being carried out.

What defines the aesthetics of new interactive music.?

I do not think that the complex business of assessing a work and locating it in a cultural and social context is radically altered by the medium in which the piece is made. It should be possible to locate a cave painting and a piece of net art on the same continuum- obviously the social and historical details differ massively, but they are both ultimately human beings making art.

How important is the visual aspect in the 'new' relationship
of the audio visual.?

I think that in a work that contains differing art forms brought together by digital technology or any other means it is the responsibility of the artist to make sure that none of these elements are used in a token way- they might be used minimally but this is different and implies at least that consideration has been given to every element of the piece.
It seems to me this is one of the factors that separates work aspiring to the condition of art from clever commerce.

Does the net promotes visual awareness that is unique to it?
I think so ? this is where its real novelty lies, although its all too possible to overstate the gap between it and what preceded it.

How novel do you feel generative music and interactivity is?

All art always has been interactive in some sense and in a sense more interesting than choosing two sides of a branch. This is not to say that there aren?t real advances to made as a result of using the new media , but perhaps they are not as easily won as some would like to think .Real ?interactivity? will come in a society where everyone has the means to make art on an equal basis and this implies one where everyone?s material needs are satisfied and there is genuine equality of educational and cultural opportunity.

Do you think there is a history to audio visual work?

Of course- any religious ceremony, theatre from Greece on , opera, Noh and Kabuki, the cinema ? these are all audio visual works.

Would you describe yourself as a multimedia artist, a net.artist,
programmer, or none of the above?

Composer and multimedia artist.

What software do you use most and why?

Sibelius because it?s fantastically flexible for both notation (which is how I think ) and sequencing.
Director because there isn?t really any competition and because its such a huge world ?even its quirks are interesting.

On a more personal level why do you make this work?

Because I feel compelled to do so.

Can you recommend three urls to soundtoys?

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